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Plan V - Strategy

Strategy and planning are the essential ingredients to any successful marketing endeavor. A lack of strategy leaves your marketing investments open to waste and underperformance from a time and financial perspective. In this blog, we’ll outline our agency’s approach to developing strategies for our clients as part 1 of 5 in our overall proven process, Plan V. This series should provide you with insights into each step of our approach to an optimized website, and digital marketing efforts. Our aim is to give you an understanding of how our agency aligns with our clients and their businesses to provide impactful and successful marketing strategies. 

Digital Alignment Strategy Session 

We believe that strategy is the foundational element in successful marketing planning. To that end, we take the time to understand your business and its unique requirements. Through our proven process, we’ve structured exercises and focus areas to help us align with our customers to uncover their needs and develop a plan that both parties can agree on. We call this a Digital Alignment Strategy Session. Below, I’ll unpack each of those exercises to show you what we do, why we do it, and how it makes an impact.

Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timelines. 

The first step in our Digital Alignment Strategy session includes an exercise we call GPCT. GPCT is structured for our team to understand your entire organization, not just your marketing or sales functions. We will ask that any key stakeholders in the organization or the project be included in this session where will identify and agree on key performance indicators, as well as overall key objectives and strategies going forward. In the goal portion of this exercise, we’ll ask you to provide your overall goals, where our team can work together to understand the why behind them, as well as make them S.M.A.R.T., specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. This helps our agency understand where you would like to go, while also creating a checkpoint for both parties to agree and solidify areas for measurement going forward. 

Once we conclude our Goals section, our team will move into the Plans portion of GPCT. The plans section is an opportunity to share your organization’s future roadmap from a company or organization perspective. This helps communicate to our team where you would potentially like to go, and when you plan to get there. The reason that the plans section is important, is that our agency can help prepare areas of our digital services to prepare for these changes, saving us both time and money in the long run. 

Challenges are a fairly straightforward part of our exercise, however, no less important. This section of our GPCT exercise helps our agency understand areas of complication in your unique business. We’ll use our consultant ears to listen for areas and opportunities to overcome these challenges with your customers, or ways we can help reduce friction through the sales and marketing process. 

Timelines are the last area of focus in our first exercise. Similar to challenges, timelines help our agency understand and plan. We’ll ask you to share key dates of impactful parts of the business. Great examples include a legacy website CMS being sunset in 9 months, or a potential merger happening next year. This helps our team to strategically suggest approaches that match and mirror your key timelines, giving both of us the best plan forward. 

Buyer Personas 

The development of buyer personas is an exercise that creates a semi-fictitious representation of your potential client(s). The reason for this exercise is for both parties to align on who our key audience or audiences will be when future communications are developed. We’ll work with you to understand who we are trying to reach, where and how they like to be communicated to, what kind of position they hold, and how that affects their ability to interact with your company. Our agency will develop a detailed psychographic profile of this Buyer Persona, and provide it back to you for future use as you continue to develop sales and marketing content. 

Competitor Analysis/Keyword Research 

This portion of our Strategy step in Plan V. will not include an interactive session with you. Prior to our meeting, or in our kick-off meeting, our team will ask you to provide your top competitors. We’ll take the time to review all of their overall brand styles, creative usage, copywriting, and positioning, as well as how each competitor stacks up against you in regard to digital performance. We’ll review these against your current website, to determine and suggest potential areas for improvement, and to inform future marketing strategies such as SEO, or pay-per-click advertising. We’ll provide this analysis back to you for your review to align both teams on the strategic approach. 

Creative Brief 

Creative Brief Development is one of the last steps of our strategy process. At this stage, our lead designer will work with you to uncover and understand your desired future look and feel. We’ll talk with you about your existing brand and usage, tone, and current or desired position in the marketplace. In addition, we’ll ask you to provide us with direction on creative styles and preferences, as well as ones to avoid. We’ll combine all of this feedback and direction into a digestible and easy-to-understand brief that outlines your creative preferences. If applicable, our designers will provide you with a brand guide detailing future brand usage, fonts, colors, etc. 

Wishlist Development and Roadmap

So what do we do with everything once we’ve completed our Digital Alignment Strategy session? In order to put things into effect, we’ll provide all of the deliverables from this session back to you within a few weeks. This gives us some time to develop and create detailed and clear information back to you for confirmation. Once everyone agrees on the deliverables, we’ll move into the construction of a perpetual wishlist of items and strategy and approach to our work. This strategy is the fruition and culmination of our efforts into a plan that both parties agree on. We’ll develop a wishlist and roadmap of what we will do, when we will do it, as well as what we expect to get back. This provides both parties with alignment that helps our project, and working engagement move smoothly. 

The strategy step is the first in our Plan V. process, but one of the most important. We’ve developed this stage of our proven process after years of implementing successful digital projects for our clients. Our goal is to ensure a solid foundation for any of our working engagements that keeps both parties aligned on exactly what we’ll do, and most importantly why we are planning to do it. Once we’ve concluded this step, we’ll move on to step 2 in our process, Position. This step is typically reserved for our full-service clients, or clients which we’ll be developing content for. In this step, we’ll explain how we help position you in the marketplace, or in the eyes of your customers as a guide that will help them avoid failure and end in success. 

John Caruso
About the Author
John is the Director of Business Development at Vendilli Digital Group. Outside of work, you can find him fishing, hunting, or canning vegetables from his garden.
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